Most of the time there’s a warning. Cramping, nausea, dizziness, general exhausting. Occasionally if things are going to get really bad, a migraine. Usually there is a sign. Usually.
But sometimes, there isn’t. Sometimes you are a block and a half away from home, turning the corner when the pain blossoms inside of you like a drop of ink in water. And down you go. And up comes the sidewalk. And even though just a moment ago you were walking home from the gym, languid and pleased, you are now find yourself slumped against the wall of the bodega, embarrassed and in pain.
There are many different kinds of pain. Tonight it was spasms and stabbing. Stabbing isn’t great, but you can work around it. Stabbing is rhythmic, so you can keep moving if you don’t mind swiftly stopping for breaks. Holding the side firmly can help and palm pressure paints or pinky finger chewing will distract if it doesn’t. Spasms are worse, though. Spasms aren’t timed, and can’t be controlled, and I’m lucky if I can stand when they hit. My bellybutton is suddenly attempting dance moves my feet would never consider and it is agony. Nothing helps. Well, pain killers help. They help a lot more when they aren’t a block and a half away.
I call my husband and tell him quietly, urgently, that I need my pills and that he should start the bath. I hang up, and gasp my way home – leaning on fences, thanking the light for the break, cursing the light for keeping me from home. There are several moments when I wonder to myself *if* I will make it home. Will Will have to carry me? Can Will carry me? Will meets me a few driveways from home, takes all of my things and lets me slump against him.
I drag my way up the stairs, to the bath, and pour myself in. I take my drugs, and slump in the hot water, waiting for another angry ripple of pain. They come. And they go. And I am tired and annoyed and bitter and more than just a little grateful. I take sips of water. Will tells gentle jokes. I sigh. Will asks me what I’m thinking and I tell him that I’m thinking about my pain. He tells me that he’s sorry. I tell him that I’m tired of people being sorry about my pain. Not that I don’t appreciate their care. It’s just…my pain is so much bigger than sadness. My pain has put me through the five stages of grief and then some. I have had hours and days and months and years to reflect on my pain and I’ve moved well past anger.
And then I sigh. Because the pain is gone. The feelings stay.